Tuesday, June 18, 2024
HomeNewsJohnson’s parting insult to democracy - making Carrie's 30-year-old chum a Lord

Johnson’s parting insult to democracy – making Carrie’s 30-year-old chum a Lord


OF the 20 or so people nominated by Boris Johnson to become members of the House of Lords, one name in particular caught my eye: Ross Kempsell. 

He is 30 years old and, if accepted by the Lords appointments commission, would be one of the youngest people ever to receive a life peerage. 

Those unfamiliar with the inner workings of Westminster are not likely to have heard of Kempsell. I am sure he is a nice and decent person. I have never met him and know little about him other than that he used to be a journalist for, among other outlets, TalkRadio, before working in politics for a while during the Johnson administration.  

I repeat. Kempsell is 30 years old. Yet, if he enters the Lords, this young man will have been given a job for life, with the ability to claim expenses and receive something like £300 every time he attends the Lords.   

The prospect of Lord Kempsell of TalkRadio surely sums up better than any pamphlet or think-tank could that the Lords is now rotten to the core. It must be radically overhauled, if not scrapped. 

So how does Kempsell come to find himself in this position? 

Anybody who has read Michael Ashcroft’s stinging book about Boris Johnson’s wife, Carrie, titled First Lady, may remember that Ross Kempsell has a walk-on part in it. 

According to Ashcroft, in the summer of 2018, Johnson (still married to his then-wife Marina) had begun spending increasing amounts of time with Carrie, who was eager to have some influence on his political life. 

In the book, one of Johnson’s close associates tells Ashcroft: 

‘That summer, (Carrie) tried to muscle in. She badmouthed some of his staff and tried to persuade him that he needed to hire new people on his team. She invited Alex Wickham and Ross Kempsell, who had both recently left (political website) Guido Fawkes, to Thame to play tennis with Boris. He didn’t listen to her and they were never hired.’ 

So it seems Kempsell was in fact (originally) a friend of Carrie’s, rather than a brilliantly talented politico whom Johnson himself discovered. And that he and Johnson got to know each other on the tennis court!  

The following year, during the 2019 Tory leadership contest, Kempsell conducted a bizarre interview with Johnson in which the soon-to-be PM admitted he relaxes by making models of buses. See here 

The month after that interview took place, Johnson entered Downing Street.  

Ashcroft notes: There was surprise from close aides at (Johnson’s) insistence that Alex Wickham should be the No 10 press secretary and that Ross Kempsell should be installed as head of broadcast.  

Both were journalists who were close friends of Carrie; both were under the age of 30 and neither had ever worked in a political environment before. Lee Cain, who had already been promised the role of director of communications, made his displeasure known to Johnson.  

‘Lee told Boris he would leave if either Wickham or Kempsell were given these jobs,’ says a source who worked in Downing Street at the time. ‘After the interference Carrie had been responsible for during the leadership campaign, Lee knew that hiring them would be a huge mistake. Boris told Lee that Carrie would be cross with him if her friends were not given jobs, but Lee stood firm.’  

Not long after that, however, Kempsell left TalkRadio to become a policy adviser to Johnson in the 10 Downing Street Policy Unit. A year later, he left Downing Street to work as a reporter on the newly-launched station Times Radio.  

By early 2021, he was back in Westminster, having been installed as the Conservative Party director of research. He recently stepped down as the party’s political director. 

I heard on the grapevine that since Johnson’s demise, Kempsell had been trying to secure a job in the world of newspaper journalism. 

But, if he’s going to the Lords, maybe he won’t need it. And that’s how politics in this country works, folks. 

Boris Johnson was an abysmal leader for Britain. It is a matter of much regret that the rest of us must clear up the mess he left behind while he goes off to make millions giving speeches and clowning around as only he can do. 

But it is nothing more or less than a slur on democracy that he is trying to leave us gifts like the would-be Lord Kempsell. He should be ashamed.  

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John Smith
John Smith
John Smith is a journalist.

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